Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday June 14

Today was a day of ups and downs...literally.  The wind decided to surprise us all with a bit more force than anyone was expecting for the day.  Luckily our group of kids were a hardy bunch and soon we were in search of whales.  We had found a whale and unfortunately when we tried to spend some time with the animal it was off.  It was off like a Fin whale on a mission.  This whale was only surfacing a few times, each time moving further and further away.  Did you know that a Fin whale can reach bursts of speeds traveling over 25mph? While this whale wasn't at top speed, it was definitely on the move and so we decided to press on in search of other mammals.  Our luck changed when our friends aboard the Prince of Whales called to report they had a cooperative Fin whale in their area.  Of course "cooperative" can be a very loose term sometimes as just when one starts to recognize a whale's travel patterns and dive times, the whale can easily change its behaviors with a snap and leave us all wondering what happened; a typical response when you are dealing with wild animals!  Luckily this Fin whale was doing a great job spending only ~5-7 minutes under the water at a time and sometimes not even moving great distances at all!  We were in luck.  To make things even more special it was a whale we recognized.  Comet the Fin whale is back!  Comet has been MIA on Jeffreys Ledge for a few years but did make an appearance in 2007 with calf as we quickly learned that year that Comet was indeed a female and caring for her recently born calf! 
Comet and her scars from a previous entanglement.  Thankfully she survived the ordeal as she swims freely today but a sad reminder of what once occurred.  Today these scars help us to positively identify her from other Fin whales and is the basis for how she got the name, "Comet"

The left side of Comet bares no sign as to what she looks like from the other side
Thanks to our school group for maneuvering the ocean with us as a few times it felt a bit more like a roller coaster ride than a boat ride, and to Comet for letting us spend some time with another familiar fin on Jeffreys Ledge.
Comet on the move as she surfaces for a breath against the ocean waves

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